Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) had a great idea Tuesday: the U.S. needs to combat the Islamic State not just militarily, but ideologically. Speaking at a congressional hearing, he said: "We have the outreach–what we don't have is the research. Keep in mind, the State Department has a thousand lawyers. I think they ought to hire one or two experts in Islamic jurisprudence, whether they be practicing Muslims or others who have the expertise." He added: "It's not enough to say, 'look at what ISIS did, they beheaded somebody, it's evil.'"
Instead, Sherman said, the jihadis had to be refuted on Islamic grounds. "One must be able to turn to the Quran, to turn to the Hadith and show how ISIS is making a mockery of a great world religion," he explained. "You cannot appeal to Islamic jurists unless you can cite Hadith, unless you can cite Quran, unless you can do all the things you would do in working before any other jurists anywhere in the world. You need legal expertise to get the Islamic legal scholars to be on our side."
Sherman has a point. For years now, I have been calling on self-proclaimed moderate Muslims in the West to produce an interpretation of the Qur'an and Sunnah that would refute Islamic jihadists' exegesis and blunt their ability to make recruits among Muslims by convincing them that groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State were the authentic exponents of Islamic teaching. Muslim spokesmen have responded to this call with ridicule, scorn, and exegeses of the Qur'an that were riddled with half-truths and telling omissions, such that it was hard to escape the impression that they were produced in order to reassure credulous infidels, rather than to convince jihadis to lay down their arms.